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5 Most Recommended Dietary Supplements

Stock these five dietary supplements in your medicine cabinet for maximum health.

| July/August 2014

  • Chopped Fresh Figs
    Figs are a good source of dietary calcium.
    Photo by Veer
  • Check out our handy infographic detailing the five most important supplements to help maximize your health.
    Infographic by Gina DeBacker
  • Woman in her Fifties Taking Vitamins
    If your diet isn't providing enough nutrition, these five super supplements can help.
    Photo by Corbis

  • Chopped Fresh Figs
  • Woman in her Fifties Taking Vitamins

What supplements should I take? It’s not an easy question to answer. While we all want to make sure we are protecting our (and our family’s) health by working toward achieving ideal nutrition, we also don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars and pop dozens of pills. The fact is that if you regularly eat high-quality whole foods, your gastrointestinal tract functions well, and you’re usually healthy, then you probably don’t need many dietary supplements.

However, some nutrients are vital or highly beneficial and our diets simply may not be providing enough of them. Even if we strive to live a healthy lifestyle, many of us fall outside the area of “ideal” health and nutrition. Sometimes we lack the time, money or inclination to prepare perfectly wholesome meals every day. With age and illness, intestines may not efficiently absorb nutrients, and acute and chronic diseases increase demands for certain nutrients. To be sure, supplement needs vary by individual, but these five are the most often-recommended dietary supplements. If you have questions, always check with your doctor.

1. Calcium

Bones, nerves, muscles, hormones and enzymes need calcium. Blood levels are maintained at a fairly even keel and if they drop, calcium is removed from bone. It’s crucial that we don’t run a long-term deficit. 

Dosage: The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults is 1,000 mg a day. The intake increases to 1,200 mg a day for women older than 50 and men older than 70. 

Other sources: If we eat well, we should be able to satisfy the requirements from food. Most experts say the best way to get calcium is from cruciferous vegetables (especially dark-green leafy vegetables), dairy products, sardines, peanuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, dried beans, figs and seaweed.

Deficiency: Many people, particularly those older than 70, fall short of recommended calcium intake without supplements. For instance, women 50 to 70 typically get about 780 mg of calcium from food. Long-term deficiency increases risk for osteoporosis.

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